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"As a team, we wanted to inject some energy and aggression into this stage. My teammates have days that will suit them later on in the race, but those climbing stages aren’t for me. I knew today was a good day to have a go."

Photo: Cannondale-Garming Pro Cycling

NATHAN HAAS

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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18.07.2015 @ 04:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nathan Haas rode with grit and heart into the stage 13 breakaway at the Tour de France on Friday. With Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séche Environnement) for company, the Australian bridged across to a four-rider move that had begun to take shape. It’s a continuation of Cannondale-Garmin’s aggressive approach to the Tour’s second week.

 

Having spent much of the first week of the Tour suffering through gastro symptoms, Haas has made a remarkable recovery over tough terrain. He woke up this morning a man on a mission.

 

“I knew I was going to be in that breakaway,” he said. “It wasn’t a fleeting thought. It was an active decision.”

 

And so he was. With temperatures reaching triple digits and lumpy roads ahead, Haas made the split decision to jump out of the bunch and power across to the move.

 

“Opportunities are everywhere,” said Haas. “It’s up to you what to do with them. As a team, we wanted to inject some energy and aggression into this stage. My teammates have days that will suit them later on in the race, but those climbing stages aren’t for me. I knew today was a good day to have a go”

 

“I was racing with the win in mind,” said Haas, who confirmed he wasn’t simply up the road to show off his team’s jersey. “I thought I might have a chance if I went away from the guys that would inevitably be faster than me in the end. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in the end, but I had a lot of fun trying, and I hope I inspired my teammates to do the same in the coming days.”

 

Alexander Geniez (FDJ), racing on home roads between Muret and Rodez, initiated the escape group to which Haas would jump across. Twenty kilometres into the 198km day, the break of the day had been solidified. Giant-Alpecin, riding for John Degenkolb, policed the front of the peloton, keeping Haas and company between three and four minutes. The heat proved to be the biggest obstacle during the first two hours of the race.

 

Forty kilometres from the finish, Tinkoff-Saxo made an appearance at the head of the bunch. Their efforts halved the breakaway’s advantage and split the peloton over the categorised climbs that came in quick succession in the last quarter of the race.

 

With the gap tumbling, Haas attacked his breakaway companions on a descent. His solo bid for glory came to an end on the uncategorized ramp that followed.

 

“I was really hungry today,” said Haas. “It was nice to see my old legs return but I’m still no 100%. In saying that, this is the middle of Grand Tour, so who knows what 100% even looks like at this point. You win stages by putting yourself in the position to win.”

 

Fifteen kilometers from the finish, the breakaway had 80 seconds over the peloton. Up yet another unclassified climb, the escape group split. Haas and two other rejoined the peloton as three members of the early breakaway forged on. The peloton ultimately overtook the remaining members of the early breakaway as the final ascent up to the finish line in Rodez.

 

“The ride today was a confidence-builder,” said Haas. “I spoke with Dan Martin before the Tour and he told me: ‘one thing you get out of doing the Tour for the first time is you realize that maybe you are on that higher level’. He told me that after his first Tour, he had a few close opportunities in the mountains. He said that’s how he knew that he could win a stage – and he did.”

 

“Sometimes you just have to break through your own barriers,” Haas added. “Maybe today, for me, was a little bit of that.”

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